Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve Its History, Promote Its Values & Celebrate Excellence Everywhere
"In my own case, I’ve always thought that one of the best things I’ve had going for me is my speed. I’m not as big and strong as some guards…but I think one of the things I can do best is block on a sweep.”
(Michigan)...6'3'', 250...Thomas Lee Mack. . .Rams’ first round draft pick, second player overall in 1966 NFL draft. . .One of only two rookies on veteran-laden team. . . Earned starting role as rookie and held left guard position for next 13 seasons. . .Extremely durable, never missed a game during 184-game career. . .Named to 11 Pro Bowls. . .All-NFL five times. . . All-Western Conference once, All-NFC eight times. . .Born November 1, 1943, in Cleveland, Ohio.
Although he played at the relatively obscure position of left guard on the offensive line, Tom Mack gained a lion’s share of attention during his 13 star-studded seasons with the Los Angeles Rams from 1966 through 1978.
He never missed a game during his 184-game tenure, a consecutive game streak third in Rams’ history behind only Jack Youngblood and Merlin Olsen. During the years that Mack played, the Rams enjoyed 12 winning seasons in 13 and compiled a .720 won-lost record (129-48-7). They won their division eight times and wound up in four NFC championship games.
The Los Angeles team was loaded with outstanding talent but Mack, as the youthful leader of an excellent offensive line, was one of the most honored of all Rams. The 6-3, 250-pound Mack earned the first of 11 Pro Bowl invitations after his second season in 1967. From that year through his final 1978 campaign, Tom missed earning a Pro Bowl spot only following the 1976 season. At the time of his retirement, his 11 Pro Bowl games ranked him in a third-place tie with Bob Lilly and Ken Houston among those with the most appearances in the post-season classic. Olsen ranked first with 14 Pro Bowl appearances and is followed by Jim Otto with 12. Mack was also all-pro or All-NFC nine times in a ten-year span from 1969 through 1978. As was the case with the Pro Bowl invitation, he missed All-NFC acclaim only in 1976.
An All-America at Michigan in 1965, Mack was the No. 1 pick of the Rams in the 1966 NFL Draft. Tom, who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 1, 1943, was one of only two rookies to survive the entire season on George Allen’s veteran-dominated squad. Tom got a starting chance in the fifth game when starter Don Chuy was injured. Mack moved into the lineup the next three games, then relinquished the role briefly to Ted Karras before grabbing the starter’s job again. He remained the Rams’ starting left guard for the next 12 years.
1974 NFC – Minnesota Vikings 14, Los Angeles Rams 10
Mack started at offensive left guard for the Rams.
1975 NFC – Dallas Cowboys 37, Los Angeles Rams 7
Mack started at offensive left guard for the Rams.
1976 NFC – Minnesota Vikings 24, Los Angeles Rams 13
Mack started at offensive left guard for the Rams.
1978 NFC – Dallas Cowboys 28, Los Angeles Rams 0
Mack started at offensive left guard for the Rams.
All-Pro: 1970 (PW) • 1971 (NEA) • 1973 (PW) • 1974 (PFWA, PW)
All-Pro Second Team: 1969 (HOF, PFWA, NEA) • 1970 (PFWA, NEA) • 1971 (PFWA) • 1972 (AP, NEA) • 1973 (AP, PFWA) • 1974 (AP) • 1975 (PFWA, NEA)
All-NFL: 1969 (UPI, NEA)
All-NFL Second Team: 1968 (UPI, NEA) • 1969 (AP, NY)
All-Western Conference: 1969 (SN)
All-NFC: 1970 (UPI, SN, PW) • 1971 (AP, UPI) • 1972 (AP, UPI, SN) • 1973 (AP, UPI, SN, PW) 1974 (AP, UPI, SN, PW) • 1975 (AP, UPI, SN, PW) • 1977 (UPI, SN, PW) • 1978 (SN)
All-NFC Second Team: 1976 (UPI) • 1978 (UPI)
(11) – 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979
Rams’ records held by Mack at the time of his retirement following the 1978 season
• [2nd] Most Consecutive Games Played, Career – 184
• [Tied 4th] Most Seasons Played – 13
• [4th] Most Games Played, Career – 184
Full Name: Thomas Lee Mack
Birthdate: November 1, 1943
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio
High School: Cleveland Heights (OH)
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 30, 1999
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 7, 1999
Presenter: Ken Iman, former Rams teammate
Other Members of Class of 1999: Eric Dickerson, Ozzie Newsome, Billy Shaw, Lawrence Taylor
Pro Career: 13 seasons, 184 games
Drafted: 1st round (2nd overall) in 1966 by Los Angeles Rams
Uniform Number: #65
Tom Mack Enshrinement Speech 1999
Presenter: Ken Iman
Hello everyone. Today I’ve got a lifelong opportunity that I’ve been waiting for, but I’ve never been able to do before because Tom used to take all the publicity away from us. I’d like to say – Hi Mom.
When Tom was announced, elected to the Hall of Fame, my wife, Joyce, asked me if I thought Tom would ask me to be his introducer. Well, normally a father, an ex-coach, a teammate, or a friend would be the one to do the presentation to him. And I said, well I’ve been all of that to Tom, so I don’t think anyone else could do it except me. When Tom finally called, and he asked me to do it for him, I said “Well who else can do it?”
In 1965, Tom was a number one draft pick by the Los Angeles Rams out of the University of Michigan and was All-Big Ten and All-American. In those days, the draft was before the season was over, so they brought Tom in in the ’65 season to meet his new teammates. Well Jack Teel, our P.R. man brought Tom into the locker room before the game, introduced him to us. Well first off, we were four and nine going into the last game of the year and the last thing you wanted to do was meet a soft, young, baby-faced, number one draft pick, who was an offensive lineman, and possibly could take a job away from one of your teammates.
Well in 1966, I started to be Tom’s father, his coach, his teammate, and a friend. He came to camp and he struggled. Not at the mental part, cause Tom is an engineer, by the way, but with the physical side. Tom found out quick, as we all did in our early years, that everybody was just as big, just as fast, or a lot bigger, or a lot faster than he was. Somewhere, throughout his 1966 rookie season, he got into the starting line-up. I’m not sure, but it was either the second or third game of the year. I do know, however, the third game was against the Packers in Milwaukee, and during the game, I remember our left tackle, Joe Carollo hollering “Hey Rook, if you can’t block ‘em, tackle ‘em!” And the person he was trying to block was the late great Hall of Famer Henry Jordan. But Tom survived that game, he went on to finish the season at left guard. He was named to the All-Rookie team. When the season was over, we sat down, had a nice talk before I headed back to my hometown which is in St. Louis. I thanked Tom for coming in and doing a great job.
He was a youngster who would listen to everything that we told him, and he always would try to do the right thing. He wasn’t a typical number one pick. Well first off, he’s an offensive lineman, so that’s not typical when they’re picked first back in those days. But he couldn’t of been a typical number one pick because the other four offensive linemen were a lot older. I was in my seventh year, Charlie Cowan and Joe Scibelli were in their sixth year and Joe Carolla was in his fifth, so Tom’s the baby. And Tom, I’m sure that Charlie Cowan and Joe Scibelli are as proud of you today as we all are, since they are watching us from above.
Tom and I played together for nine seasons. During those years he became my left arm. We watched films together, we talked techniques together, we shared tips on opponents, and went over our blocking calls before every game. We also sat together on the plane for our road trips. And this had some advantages as well as disadvantages. One of the disadvantages was that he was a tour guide. He would always point out power plants and rivers and mountains along the way, and I really didn’t care. But that’s Tom, again showing that he’s an engineer. But one of the advantages he had, he had the charm to talk to the stewardesses into supplying us with extra liquid refreshments. They would always be under his seat on the plane after the game. And no matter the length of the trip, we always had enough to get us back to LA.
During the George Allen era, we would always meet on a Monday night to watch Monday Night Football. The Rams would supply us with food and beverage. And each week around halftime, Tom would go call his lovely wife Ann and see if he could stay with the guys and watch the rest of the game. After 10 minutes of him and I begging her, she would finally give in. This helped us to get close off the field as well as on the field. You can’t go through all we have done together and not be close.
Now here’s about Tom. Tom is from nearby Cleveland, as you all know. In high school, along with football, he was a swimmer and a baseball player. And he was telling me yesterday or the day before that he had more offers to go to college as a swimmer than he did as a football player. Which I’m glad he didn’t stick with swimming because he became a hell of a guard. He got his ability to play baseball from his late father Ray Mack who played for the Cleveland Indians.
Ann and his three daughters Christian, Katie, and Carrie, plus the dogs have always been the number in things in Tom’s life. He has played in 11 Pro Bowls. Named 10 times to the All-Pro team, played 184 consecutive games.
Today I am here to share with Tom in his induction to the Hall of Fame. It is now my pleasure to congratulate him and thank him for letting me be a part in this important and deserving day. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud to introduce to you my son, my teammate, a great football player, and my friend, Hall of Famer Tom Mack.
It’s funny how things work out. About 25 years ago I had an opportunity to get a bit part in a Six-Million Dollar Man production, two other Hall of Famers were in that, Dick Butkus and Larry Csonka. And after I did the thing, it was shown in the fall, and I got a letter about two weeks later from a girl that I had gone to high school with. And she said “Wow! From Heights High to Hollywood.” And it just really, it hit me, and I said, “You know, that’s really something.” But then I thought about it, you heard I was a finalist for this 11 times, this is only 60 miles from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Canton. It seems like it’s a million miles, so it’s really great that I finally got here. And I can’t tell you how delighted I am.
I walked away from football 20 years ago. Went and did something totally different. But I guess I always believed that someday I would get the opportunity to come here. And what I kind of wanted to talk about today was believing in how important it is. Because when it’s all said and done, belief is really the theme that made me come here and it made most of the fellows that came here in the past and the fellows that came with me the real secrete. First a belief in God. Second a belief in yourself. And third because it is a team game. You really do believe in each other as teammates. You work hard together, you live together, and you die together. But being together is really what it’s all about. I really want to split the little talk today into three different groups, if I may. The first two I want to thank people. The third, I really want to praise people.
The first group that I really want to talk about is how got to be Tom Mack, so to speak, and what that meant to me as a football player and how it helped me through life. It goes all the way back to when you’re a child. Somebody said the other day that you learn everything by the time you’re five, and everything after that is just kind of happenstance. I don’t really believe that, but I do remember, and it was very important as I grew up, my father always convinced me I could be a good athlete. I have terrible eyes, about 20-400 vision, and I can’t see a ball, much less hit a ball, much less catch a ball. But he said I was a good athlete and I always wanted to believe that. Mom always told me I could be a great person. And I really did believe that, and I always said “Okay, if I can be a great person, if I can be a great athlete, both of those are important.”
My grandfather really is the person that showed me how to believe in God. And without that, there really isn’t anything else to go with. The first person I remember outside of my family unit that made a huge impact was my Boy Scout leader, a fellow named Bill Avendrop. He really taught me to believe in myself, that I had something else going for me. The next person that had a huge impact was a YMCA swimming coach. Kenny mentioned I was a swimmer, thank God I was a swimmer cause I sure couldn’t play football or baseball very well when I was little. But a fellow named Owen Johnson was the first coach that I ever had that really said, “Yes you can,” and “Yes you will be a good swimmer.” He taught me to believe in myself again, and also, I was using athletics.
The next person that had a absolutely huge impact on my life was my high school coach who has passed away, a fellow named Jim Roberts. Jim Robert came to a school, and we were kind of a, kind of a luxury school, not real hard working. We were pretty intellectual, and Jim Robert believed in hard work and really gutting it out and giving it your all. He helped me through a summer, actually helped me through a summer as a lifeguard. But the real thing that Jim Roberts did in conjunction with Owen Johnson, is he sold the University of Michigan that I could be a good football player. And Jim made me believe in myself, and made the University of Michigan, maybe more important, believe that I could be a good football player.
I had a classmate, and I know that some of my friends from high school are here today. Our senior year in high school he got mononucleosis, a fellow named Bob Sturnberg, and he’s not here today, but I helped tutored Bob for a couple of weeks to get back to school. And when I did all that, all of a sudden, I found out that it really was worth trying to be student, even though I abandoned the idea about three years earlier and was working mostly on my athletics. That really helped me and changed my life because it helped me go to school and try do something besides and beyond athletics.
I went to the University of Michigan, and I really have to thank a fellow named Bump Elliott. Pete Elliott was the director of the Hall of Fame here for about 20 years. Bump is Pete’s brother, and Bump really took a huge chance on about 15 or 20 kids, almost all of us from the State of Ohio, and he rebuilt the University of Michigan football program shortly before Bo Schembeckler took it over and carried it on to greatness. I was really lucky to be there. I had great teammates, I had great friends, who continued to believe in me. I wasn’t good enough to even play my sophomore year in school. I got to play my junior and senior year and we kind of went on from being really not very good, to really being a very good team. I had teammates that believed in me. There’s a fellow from Canton, Ohio, who I believe is here today named Floyd Day. Floyd never got to play, but God did he believed in me and boy did that help me. Another fellow named Gary Schick. Another fellow who ended up over in Vietnam for a while named Bill Western. Those people believed in me, and that’s so important that you got people believing in each other, it helps you down the road.
I think the greatest fan and the greatest friend that I have for the next 33 years was my father-in-law Bud Tollison. I lost him last year, and he would have loved to have been here today. His son’s here, his wife is here. He was such a friend and such fan that he always believed that I could be the very best guard in the world. He always believed the Los Angeles Rams were the very best team in the world. And till the day he died, he always believes the damn Rams were going to win the championship. So, John, it’s up to you to get us to a championship. Just, I was really, really lucky that I got to know Bud, and spent that time. And Ann, I met my wife at the Rose Bowl. So, Los Angeles was always king of a second home to me. I will think of Canton, certainly as a third home, but Los Angeles was a wonderful place.
I was lucky enough in all of this that my parents took the time to remind me, and I guess it came out on that screen a little bit, that no matter how good I was, no matter how well we did, sooner or later as an athlete, you’ve got to stand up and walk away from that. If you’re really successful, you might make until you’re 30 or 35, but unless you’re playing golf or tennis or something like that, you’re going to go and have to find a real job in the real world. So, mom, I thank you for telling me to go to engineering school.
To a professor, Lee Crackenbush, he helped me get through engineering school, and we did it without cheating. And that was important to me. And then I had another really lucky break. I met a fellow during a speaking engagement, as many of the athletes do, 30 some years ago, a fellow named Ike Corrocco. He ran a division for a company called Bechtel. I’ve worked for Bechtel for 29 years in the off-season. First, I worked in the off-season. Of course, they could probably say I’m still working in the off-season. But then 20 years since I quit playing football, I’ve worked for them. And that’s really given me, athletics has really given me the foundation that made all of that possible. I’ve met wonderful people and wonderful associates through there. And I know that my enthusiasm, my desire to drive, teamwork, my intensity, just my will to win, I know it effects people. And there were people that I’ve been lucky enough to meet, like Steve Bechtel, Carl Andoninni, a number of the U.S. Senators, because I got to run their Washington office for a few years. A fellow named Ike Zerang, another good friend named Henry Weber, a fellow named Tom Williams, who is with the department of energy. These are the kind of people that know me, and know they are affected by the fact that I played football. That’s what made it so important to me.
The second group of people I want to take the opportunity to thank are a group of people that really took the time to believe in me well after I stopped playing football. They never gave up, they never were convinced that I wasn’t going to get here, even when I, last year, I kind of packed it in and said I’m not going to get here. People like Price Glenhill, John Dempsey, Larry Damon. Some fellow you remember, Kenny, the Trainy brothers out in Los Angeles. A neighbor named Dale Snyder. A fellow who called every radio station in the United States, Jim Mademo. My dentist, and this is important to me, a guy named Ron Zainer. All the teeth on this side of my mouth he put in last week so I could come here today.
That never gave up and continued to let people know and try to remember that I was a good football player. I thank each and every one of them, because without them I know I would not be here or be remembered, so to speak.
Finally, the thing that I want to spend the real focus on is football. Football goes on because of you folks, you fans. And it goes on because you want to believe in something or someone. Whether it’s Eric Dickerson running the ball, or it’s LT stopping somebody, you want to believe. You want to believe sooner or later; your team is going to make a difference. Well as players, I have to tell you that we lust for believing that we can make that possible for you. That’s real, real important. Every athlete, everywhere that’s really worth his salt is somebody who takes his time to push to be the very best. To always want to be the very best no matter what the circumstance or how hard he has to go. So, when I go through this honor today, for me, I really think of all the people that I know were good enough in some ways that they should be here. They were offensive lineman. Some of them you’ve seen in nomination, some of them you’ve never seen in nomination. But people from my era that I want to take just a moment to recognize because they’re the kind of people that someday I hope you’ll be honoring here.
People like Gene Hickerson from the Cleveland Browns, Rayfield Wright, Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Kramer from the Green Bay Packers, Mick Tingelhoff from the Minnesota Vikings, Ed White from the Vikings and Chargers. A fellow named Howard Mudd who played for San Francisco 49ers. There’s a lot of players that are very deserving, offensive lineman that worked hard. You know the big thing for me was, I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. For 26 years, starting in 1967, the Los Angeles Rams had at least one and many times two or more offensive lineman in the Pro Bowl – the All-Star Game. I don’t think any other team in football history has that many people consecutively playing in the All-Star Game. And what that really was about was I happened to be lucky enough to be with a first group of great offensive lineman that the Rams had. And then I transitioned and kind of helped start the second group. The first group was Kenny Iman, who is here today, Joe Scibelli and Charlie Cowan who have unfortunately passed on, and a fellow named Joe Carollo. The four of us, the first four of us, played together nine years. Joe Carollo went on and we transitioned to a couple of other players. The second group I was lucky enough to play with, and they were just as important to me, was a fellow named Doug France, myself, Rich Saul, Dennis Harrah, John Williams.
That was the second group, and that second group then transitioned to the group – Jackie Slater was a rookie my 11th year, so he started the transition, and Jackie really fathered two more lines that followed beyond that. But the special part about that, is this award to me is for those people more than it’s for me. Kenny is really here today representing our companionship, our friendship, and our love, collectively, for four or five guys for each other. You just can’t imagine, unless you’ve played ball that an offensive lineman by himself – I’ve never won a game, but I’ve never lost a game all by myself. As an offensive line, I guarantee you, you can’t win a game if your offensive lineman doesn’t play, as a group, well for you.
And I can tell you because we did it occasionally, that if we decided to be bad, we can seal anybody’s fate anytime we want, just by kind of not showing up. Anyway, football to me is a team game, and I’d like to believe, and I think it is America’s game. The secret is that you have got to believe. You know the nice part is we believed in each other. I’d just like to give you a little quote about vision – “Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is work. Vision with action moves mountains.” So, if I can leave with you anything, it’s this – that you should continue to believe in God, continue to believe in yourselves, and maybe most importantly in almost everything you do, continue to believe in each other. Thank you very much.